The Orioles strike first, but the Tigers strike back in a major way, lead 5-2 in the fourth

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There were a lot of people talking up small-ball on Tuesday night during that Royals game. But to paraphrase a hero of mine, allow me to observe that hokey strategies and ancient weapons like bunts are no match for a good three-run homer by your side, kid.

Every game but that first wild card game has been decided by big innings and homers and today’s Orioles-Tigers game is no exception. The Orioles struck first with a two-run homer by Nick Markakis in the bottom of the third. But then in the top of the fourth the Tigers hit back in a big way:

Wei-Yen Chen gave up a single to Torii Hunter and a double by Miguel Cabrera to lead things off. Then Victor Martinez singled to score Hunter, putting runners on first and third for J.D. Martinez. All he did is hit a three-run homer. And unlike Markakis’ homer, which was reviewed by replay officials to make sure it cleared the fence, it was a no-doubter. The next batter was Nick Castellanos, who hit a solo shot of his own to make it 5-2. Those five runs scored on ten pitches. It was something of a blitzkrieg.

As I hit “post,” that remains the score as we head into the bottom of the fourth. Chen has been yanked.

Viva big ball.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.